Pregnancy – a condition that defines the very essence of a woman. A term that can spell infinite joy for an aspiring mother – to –be. And yet, a condition that can bring along several complications with it; some of them being life threatening for both the mother and the baby inside.
One such condition that is extremely dangerous and risky to treat is an ectopic pregnancy. Usually occuring in the first few weeks of the pregnancy (within 8 weeks approximately), an ectopic pregnancy is said to occur when the embryo containing the foetus attaches itself to the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus.
The condition is very rare and can occur in about 1 of every 50 pregnancies or so. However, it is not impossible and can affect even healthy women who have had no records of any health related ailments in the past. The condition is truly life threatening and needs to be treated immediately after diagnosis in order to avoid further, riskier complications.
Possible causes for Ectopic Pregnancy
As mentioned earlier, an ectopic pregnancy can affect even normal women with no history of medical related ailments. However, the condition is known to frequently affect women who project some if not all the symptoms mentioned below.
A weak fallopian tube (probably caused by a condition called congential abnormality, or an accident) would prevent the normal motion of the fertilized egg to the uterus in time for implantation. This would cause the egg to attach itself to the fallopian tube instead, giving rise to the issue.
An intrauterine device (IUD) could possibly disrupt the flow of the fertilized egg to the uterus during conception, causing it to embed somewhere else, most probably the fallopian tubes.
A woman may have higher chances of having an extopic pregnancy if she has a history of being treated for the same condition. Alternatively, she could also contract the condition if she has a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), having undergone few if not multiple surgeries for the same issue. These surgeries would result in interior scars which would disrupt the flow of the fertilised egg to the uterus by blocking the same in the fallopian tubes itself.
Ectopic pregnancies have also known to occur due to sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and chlamydia; overdose of fertility drugs, unsucessful infertility treatments like invitro fertilisation; or a failed tubal ligitation (or tubal ligitation reversal) procedure.Symptoms you need to look out for
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An ectopic pregnancy is hard to diagnose via symptoms which ususally resemble the symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Accordingly, symptoms like nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and weakness are common in both kinds of pregnancies.
However, an ectopic pregnancy comes with a few more symptoms that can be adjudged as warning bells as and when they start occuring. Some of these symptoms include lower abdominal pain, body pains (especially on one side), painful abdominal cramps, neck, shoulder and rectum pain; and light vaginal bleeding.
In some cases, the fallopian tube containing the embryo ruptures under the weight of the latter, in which case, the pain and bleeding intensify considerably. In these cases, it is considered wise to rush to the hospital right away for medical treatment. This would minimise if not prevent other risks like haemorrhages and infertility.
A doctor’s diagnosis
Sometimes, the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy would not arise until after the 6th or 7th week. However a routine pregnancy test, including an ultrasound and pelvic exam (usually done around the 5th week or so) would point out the issue right away.
After diagnosis, another ultrasound test would indicate the present condition of the fallopian tubes and the uterus. A followup meeting with the doctor would enable you to chart out a possible course of action in par with your body condition.
Treatment Protocols and Procedures for Ectopic Pregnancies
In case of a rupture (fallopian tube), immediate surgery would be required to stop haemorrhaging. Again, if the fallopian tube and ovary are damaged beyond repair, they would have to be removed via surgery. If the fallopian tube and ovary appear safe and sound during the ultrasound test, then a laproscopic surgery would successfully remove the egg from the fallopian tubes without damaging the same in the process.
Accordingly, a small incision would be made in the abdomen, into which a thin, lithe laproscoic instrument is inserted. The instrument is then gently inserted into the fallopian tube via another incision, and the egg is carefully removed.
Many women feel that they would not be affected by an ectopic pregnancy again, having undergone treatment for the same once. On the contrary, ectopic pregnancies can recurr in women; and can completely vanish in others, allowing them to have normal pregnancies afterwards.
After undergoing surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, the woman in question must make sure that the process was completed successfully with minimum or no side effects at all. This would involve taking regular blood tests to ensure that the entire egg (and pregnancy tissue that might have developed around it) was removed during surgery. Possible traces of the egg that might have been left out during surgery would show up in the blood tests.
Life after an Ectopic Pregnancy
Sure, getting used to normal life would be hard after undergoing surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, particularly a painful one. And even though the physical scars would fade away with time, the emotional scars of losing a baby would remain etched in the heart for a long time.
What women need to realise here is that life does not stop after a failed pregnancy. Women who have been treated for ectopic pregnancy can conceive again and enjoy normal deliveries. Usually doctors advise a 3-6 months time gap for women who wish to conceive again. Emotionally depressed women can opt for counselling sessions and support groups for mental strength.
There is no standard treatment or practise to stay safe from ectopic pregnancies. However, the symptoms that cause the condition can be treated to an extent to avert the issue, thereby letting a women enjoy a normal, peaceful and successful delivery with little or no hassles at all!